Posted May 13, 2009 11:45 am CDT
A Guatemalan lawyer gunned down as he was riding his bicycle left a videotape blaming the country’s president if he is found dead.
The 47-year-old lawyer, Rodrigo Rosenberg, made the tape on Wednesday, four days before his death, a friend told the Wall Street Journal. The tape, now posted on YouTube, blames President Álvaro Colom in his death, along with the president’s private secretary, the president’s wife and a businessman, according to the Journal account and the Miami Herald. The reports say the allegations are drawing protests and straining the country’s democracy.
“If you are hearing or seeing this message it’s because I was assassinated by President Álvaro Colom,” along with the help of the others, the tape says. The recording also accuses the group of responsibility for the death of two of his clients, a businessman and his daughter.
Rosenberg says the businessman had refused to go along with corrupt business deals at the quasi state-run bank that benefited the president’s wife and helped finance drug traffickers, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Colom denied the allegations at a press conference. “First, I’m not an assassin. Second, I’m not a drug dealer, and everything that [Rosenberg] says is totally senseless,” Colom said. He told reporters he is asking the United Nations and the FBI to help investigate, the BBC reports.
Anita Isaacs, a Guatemala expert at Haverford College, told the Wall Street Journal that the tape “speaks to the incredible violence that takes place every day in Guatemala from organized criminal networks that have infiltrated the state.” She said an estimated 6,000 people were murdered in the country last year and the victims included judges and human-rights activists.